Thursday, January 14, 2010

Sacred Scars by Kathleen Duey

Plot Summary: Sadima, Franklin, and Somiss, driven out of Limòri by a suspicious fire, are living in a cave hidden within the cliffs that overlook the city. Somiss is convinced the dark passages of the caves were the home of ancient magicians, and his obsession with restoring magic deepens. Sadima dreams of escape -- for her, for Franklin, and for the orphaned street boys Somiss has imprisoned in a crowded cage. Somiss claims he will teach these boys magic, that they will become his first students, but Sadima knows he is lying. Generations later, Hahp is struggling to survive the wizards' increasingly dangerous classes at the Limòri Academy of Magic. He knows the fragile pact he has forged with his secretive roommate, Gerrard, will not be enough to put an end to the evil. It will take all the students acting together to have any chance of destroying the academy. Building trust, with few chances to speak or plan, will be almost impossible, but there is no choice.

Over a year ago, I read SKIN HUNGER, the first in this Resurrection of Magic trilogy. The writing was strong, the characters and situation compelling, but it made me angry because of the way the author chose to tell the story.

I had the same reaction to SACRED SCARS, but I was expecting it this time, so it wasn’t as bad. The characters are just as compelling, the situation piques my curiosity, and I really want to know how the story is going to end.

But I really, really don’t like the way the story is being told.

There are lots of trilogies out there today. Some are stories that need to be told in three volumes, but many are not. Many are unnecessarily drawn out – by the way, a story is stronger in one concise volume rather than three padded volumes.

But this is not the case with the Resurrection of Magic. It’s clear that this story is huge, that there are so many things going on with many connections forming, and it all needs to be told. I can appreciate that, because I’ve been struggling with a story of similar size for seven years, and it’s not easy. But that’s why it’s taken me seven years to figure out how to tell it.

I’m not sure when Duey started to write her trilogy, but it doesn’t seem like she explored the various methods of storytelling. Instead, she chose alternating chapters between Sadima and Hahp – which didn’t work at all for the first book, though it was a little better in the second – and ended up chopping the story into three parts: beginning, middle, and end. The beginning was SKIN HUNGER (book one), and the middle was SACRED STARS (book two). I won’t get any kind of resolution until the final book, which probably won’t be out for two more years. That’s agonizing! And not in a good way.

If Duey weren’t such a skilled writer, I’d have stopped reading these books long ago. As it is now, I have a love-hate relationship with them. I bought the first book, but was so mad when I finished it that I had no trouble waiting for the library to pick up a copy of the second book. Not exactly the best way to get a following of readers...and it also means that I can't, in good conscience, recommend either book. How you tell the story is just as important as building solid characters, writing well, and creating a vivid setting. I think the Resurrection of Magic trilogy is an excellent example of this.

If you can sit on incredible cliffhangers for two years, then you should read this story. But if you consider that to be a special kind of torture (like I do), then definitely wait until the final book is out. I wish I had.


Bish Denham said...

Haven't read these. I'll go see in my library has them.

Lenore Appelhans said...

I have books 1 and 2 sitting cozily on my shelf just waiting for book 3 so I can read them all together!

Tabitha said...

Bish - they're really good, but you will be left with a cliffhanger ending. If that's okay with you, then definitely read them. I hope your library has them!

Lenore - you are a very smart woman. :)

Sherrie Petersen said...

Good to know! I've been curious about Skin Hunger, but I'll just wait until that final installment is available.

I got really annoyed with the ending of Catching Fire. It just leaves you on a cliff until book 3 comes out. I really prefer my books to have some sort of resolution.

Nayuleska said...

Mmmm due to the length of my wishlist, I may skip putting this series on there.

Thanks for the review!

Beth Kephart said...

A very lovely interview.

I completely agree and sympathize — writing to find out, struggling to know for certain.

Joanna Ruth Meyer said...

I read "Skin Hunger" a few months back and was so ANNOYED when I got to the end to find that there wasn't an end. It basically felt like it stopped in the middle of a sentence. Maybe I'll read "Sacred Scars" when book three comes out.

Tabitha said...

Sherrie - if you were annoyed at the end of Catching Fire, you'll be tearing your hair out at the ending of both Skin Hunger and Sacred Scars. :) Waiting until the final book is out is a wise choice. :)

Yuna - yeah, my guess is the final book won't be out for another two years. Then I would definitely recommend putting it in your TBR pile. Are you still reading a book a day?

Beth - thanks!

Joanna - same here. :) I was so annoyed I nearly screamed out loud. It took me a year to properly calm down and be able to read Sacred Scars, though the experience wasn't much better. Just different expectations. :)